Gareth Porter Reviews Going to Tehran…All of It

Predictably, a number of mainstream media outlets have assigned their reviews of Going to Tehran to pro-Green (if not outright anti-Islamic Republic) polemicists.  These writers can hardly pay attention to any of our arguments and analyses save for those that deal with Iran’s 2009 presidential election and our case that the Islamic Republic is, for the majority of Iranians living in their country, a legitimate order.  In the end, reviewers of this sort don’t even really deal with our our arguments and analyses on Iranian politics, preferring simply to dismiss us as “apologists”—or, put marginally more politely, “partisans”—for the Iranian government.

We are writing our own piece on the charge of “apologetics” and what it signifies about the warped U.S. debate over American policies toward Iran and the Middle East more broadly.  In the meantime, we want to highlight Gareth Porter’s review of Going to Tehran, which was published this week by IPS, see here, and is getting picked up by other online sites (including Antiwar.com, see here, Consortium News, see here, CounterPunch, see here, and Truthout, see here).  It deals with our book in its totality—with our evaluation of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy as well as its domestic order, and with our arguments about America’s grossly counterproductive quest to dominate the Middle East as well as our analyses of Iranian strategy and politics.

With gratitude to Gareth, we append his review below:

Former Insiders Criticise Iran Policy as U.S. Hegemony

Gareth Porter*

“Going to Tehran” arguably represents the most important work on the subject of U.S.-Iran relations to be published thus far.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett tackle not only U.S. policy toward Iran but the broader context of Middle East policy with a systematic analytical perspective informed by personal experience, as well as very extensive documentation.

More importantly, however, their exposé required a degree of courage that may be unparalleled in the writing of former U.S. national security officials about issues on which they worked.  They have chosen not just to criticise U.S. policy toward Iran but to analyse that policy as a problem of U.S. hegemony.

Their national security state credentials are impeccable.  They both served at different times as senior coordinators dealing with Iran on the National Security Council Staff, and Hillary Mann Leverett was one of the few U.S. officials who have been authorised to negotiate with Iranian officials.

Both wrote memoranda in 2003 urging the George W. Bush administration to take the Iranian “roadmap” proposal for bilateral negotiations seriously but found policymakers either uninterested or powerless to influence the decision.  Hillary Mann Leverett even has a connection with the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), having interned with that lobby group as a youth.

After leaving the U.S. government in disagreement with U.S. policy toward Iran, the Leveretts did not follow the normal pattern of settling into the jobs where they would support the broad outlines of the U.S. role in world politics in return for comfortable incomes and continued access to power.

Instead, they have chosen to take a firm stand in opposition to U.S. policy toward Iran, criticising the policy of the Barack Obama administration as far more aggressive than is generally recognised.  They went even farther, however, contesting the consensus view in Washington among policy wonks, news media and Iran human rights activists that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s election in June 2009 was fraudulent.

The Leveretts’ uncompromising posture toward the policymaking system and those outside the government who support U.S. policy has made them extremely unpopular in Washington foreign policy elite circles.  After talking to some of their antagonists, The New Republic even passed on the rumor that the Leveretts had become shills for oil companies and others who wanted to do business with Iran.

The problem for the establishment, however, is that they turned out to be immune to the blandishments that normally keep former officials either safely supportive or quiet on national security issues that call for heated debate.

In “Going to Tehran,” the Leveretts elaborate on the contrarian analysis they have been making on their blog (formerly “The Race for Iran” and now “Going to Tehran”).  They take to task those supporting U.S. systematic pressures on Iran for substituting wishful thinking that most Iranians long for secular democracy, and offer a hard analysis of the history of the Iranian revolution.

In an analysis of the roots of the legitimacy of the Islamic regime, they point to evidence that the single most important factor that swept the Khomeini movement into power in 1979 was “the Shah’s indifference to the religious sensibilities of Iranians.”  That point, which conflicts with just about everything that has appeared in the mass media on Iran for decades, certainly has far-reaching analytical significance.

The Leveretts’ 56-page review of the evidence regarding the legitimacy of the 2009 election emphasises polls done by U.S.-based Terror Free Tomorrow and World Public Opinon and Canadian-based Globe Scan and 10 surveys by the University of Tehran.  All of the polls were consistent with one another and with official election data on both a wide margin of victory by Ahmadinejad and turnout rates.

The Leveretts also point out that the leading opposition candidate, Hossein Mir Mousavi, did not produce “a single one of his 40,676 observers to claim that the count at his or her station had been incorrect, and none came forward independently.”

“Going to Tehran” has chapters analysing Iran’s “Grand Strategy” and on the role of negotiating with the United States that debunk much of which passes for expert opinion in Washington’s think tank world.  They view Iran’s nuclear programme as aimed at achieving the same status as Japan, Canada and other “threshold nuclear states” which have the capability to become nuclear powers but forego that option.

The Leveretts also point out that it is a status that is not forbidden by the nuclear non-proliferation treaty—much to the chagrin of the United States and its anti-Iran allies.

In a later chapter, they allude briefly to what is surely the best-kept secret about the Iranian nuclear programme and Iranian foreign policy:  the Iranian leadership’s calculation that the enrichment programme is the only incentive the United States has to reach a strategic accommodation with Tehran.  That one fact helps to explain most of the twists and turns in Iran’s nuclear programme and its nuclear diplomacy over the past decade.

One of the propaganda themes most popular inside the Washington beltway is that the Islamic regime in Iran cannot negotiate seriously with the United States because the survival of the regime depends on hostility toward the United States.

The Leveretts debunk that notion by detailing a series of episodes beginning with President Hashemi Rafsanjani’s effort to improve relations in 1991 and again in 1995 and Iran’s offer to cooperate against Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and, more generally after 9/11, about which Hillary Mann Leverett had personal experience.

Finally, they provide the most detailed analysis available on the 2003 Iranian proposal for a “roadmap” for negotiations with the United States, which the Bush administration gave the back of its hand.

The central message of “Going to Tehran” is that the United States has been unwilling to let go of the demand for Iran’s subordination to dominant U.S. power in the region.  The Leveretts identify the decisive turning point in the U.S. “quest for dominance in the Middle East” as the collapse of the Soviet Union, which they say “liberated the United States from balance of power constraints.”

They cite the recollection of senior advisers to Secretary of State James Baker that the George H. W. Bush administration considered engagement with Iran as part of a post-Gulf War strategy but decided in the aftermath of the Soviet adversary’s disappearance that “it didn’t need to.”

Subsequent U.S. policy in the region, including what former national security adviser Bent Scowcroft called “the nutty idea” of “dual containment” of Iraq and Iran, they argue, has flowed from the new incentive for Washington to maintain and enhance its dominance in the Middle East.

The authors offer a succinct analysis of the Clinton administration’s regional and Iran policies as precursors to Bush’s Iraq War and Iran regime change policy.  Their account suggests that the role of Republican neoconservatives in those policies should not be exaggerated, and that more fundamental political-institutional interests were already pushing the U.S. national security state in that direction before 2001.

They analyse the Bush administration’s flirtation with regime change and the Obama administration’s less-than-half-hearted diplomatic engagement with Iran as both motivated by a refusal to budge from a stance of maintaining the status quo of U.S.-Israeli hegemony.

Consistent with but going beyond the Leveretts’ analysis is the Bush conviction that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had shaken the Iranians, and that there was no need to make the slightest concession to the regime.  The Obama administration has apparently fallen into the same conceptual trap, believing that the United States and its allies have Iran by the throat because of its “crippling sanctions.”

Thanks to the Leveretts, opponents of U.S. policies of domination and intervention in the Middle East have a new and rich source of analysis to argue against those policies more effectively.

*Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

 

118 Responses to “Gareth Porter Reviews Going to Tehran…All of It”

  1. Karl.. says:

    Leveretts,

    Actually you should spendnt time defending your views, these people are set out to smear you, why bother with their insults? Just leave it where it is.

  2. Bipartisan group backs measure stating US support for Israel’s self-defense
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/bipartisan-group-backs-measure-stating-us-support-for-israels-self-defense/2013/02/28/53bb6580-81e1-11e2-a671-0307392de8de_story.html

    Basically Congress has decided that whatever Obama wants, if Israel attacks Iran, the US will attack Iran. Because I doubt very many politicians are going to vote against this measure once AIPAC starts calling their office.

  3. Better analysis of the Congressional measure…

    Senators Press Resolution To Green-Light Israeli Attack On Iran
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/02/28/senators-press-to-green-light-israeli-attack-on-iran.html

  4. Iran hails turning point in nuclear talks
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/27/iran-turning-point-nuclear-talks

    Before BiBiJon weighs in to claim victory, let me give my take on what will happen.

    1) The Iranians will accept the deal “in principle.”

    2) The Iranians will add a little something to the deal – just to see if the West is serious about it.

    3) The US will reject whatever the Iranians add to the deal – because they’re scared the deal will actually go through, just like they were scared the 2010 Brazil-Turkey deal would go through. So the deal, like in 2009, will become “take it or leave it.”

    4) The US will blame Iran for the failure of the talks.

    5) The US will impose more sanctions.

    6) Everything is back to square one.

    Alternatively if the US DOES accept whatever Iran adds, it will be solely because the US wants to try to use the deal to make Netanyahu hold off attacking Iran. Because you know Netanyahu will go ballistic if a deal is reached. But the US will try to get Netanyahu to accept the additional restrictions on enrichment as meaning he can push the war off. But this is really irrelevant because of the next point.

    The US may use this as a way to keep Iran on the “back burner” this year while they prepare to attack Syria. They can’t have the Iran war until Syria and Hizballah are degraded – and that may take longer than expected. So it’s to the US advantage to get a deal early this year and get the can down the road until next year.

    Once Syria is dealt with, the US will then ramp up the anti-Iran posture again, put on more sanctions, and start talking naval blockade.

    In short, premature jubilation over Iran hailing the talks so far as a “turning point” is unwarranted.

  5. Oh, and Iran accepting the US deal also is likely to play well in Iran which is facing elections in June.

  6. Another analysis of the possible impact of the Congressional measure, such as the possibility of sabotaging the talks in March.

    Ahead of March Iran Talks, U.S. Urged to Back Possible Israeli Strike
    http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/02/ahead-of-march-iran-talks-u-s-urged-to-back-possible-israeli-strike/

  7. ToivoS says:

    “Karl.. says:
    February 28, 2013 at 4:04 pm
    Leveretts,

    Actually you should spendnt time defending your views, these people are set out to smear you, why bother with their insults? Just leave it where it is.”

    They are playing in the political arena right now. If their goal is to influence policy. As unfair and irrelevant as the attacks are, they do have to address them. They cannot retreat into silence. Having said that, they have to do it in a way where they do not sound “defensive”.

    They are being attacked as being apologist for the generally despised regime in Tehran. I think they have already dealt with that charge with their China opening analogy. Nixon and Kissinger went to China at the same time as the cultural revolution was in effect. They just need to repeat that again and again in the face of antiIran propaganda.

  8. Smith says:

    fyi says:
    February 28, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Leave them. They do not know what they are talking about. I challenged them to go and live for a while there. I do not think they have the courage to do that. On the other hand I’ve been there and seen it all with my own eyes and heard it all with my own ears. Sometimes instead of being a keyboard warrior, it pays to actually pack a bag and go see the world for what it is and not what is being reported on IRIB or for that matter any other news agency. I doubt they will change their minds though. For that you need knowledge and not news tidbits and freedom of thought. They have none.

  9. Fiorangela says:

    Richard Steven Hack, What is your assessment of US decision NOT to send a second carrier to the Persian Gulf, based on “sequestration” restrictions?

  10. James Canning says:

    Bravo, Gareth Porter.

  11. James Canning says:

    Joe Wilson and wife Valerie, on how the Bush administration deceived the American public to set up idiotic invasion of Iraq:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/27/bush-administration-sold-iraq-war

  12. Smith says:

    I also believe Leveretts should deal with this matter specially the apologetics part. Though I understand that in an ideal world it should be like you defend only your own ideas and others defend theirs, we are not living in an ideal world. When low lives attack you personally and start to make it a personal fight by raising objections on your person and your loyalty then it is time to go on an attack. There are several ways to do so. As a base defense, I think Leveretts should prepare a very well produced video for youtube, of let’s say half an hour detailing the core ideology of their book and debunking the cheap ad hominems by using the tried and tested method of showing the mirror. Nixon China deal in midst of cultural revolution is one such mirror that has to be dusted and brought back to light.

    The other mirrors need not be so much analogous but show that the world is not a perfect place. Such mirrors from Obama going to Burma in midst of a genocide to US dealing with Uzbekistan while political dissidents in that country were being boiled alive in used motor oil to American dealings with Saudis and tyrants of all color and stripes, to even now having started to talk to Taliban in Afghanistan. The content of the video must be thoroughly researched and be well articulated. Also do not forget to use all the names of people who have dared to use ad hominems. There must be a cost when some one does such cheap stuff. Another method is to have an alliance.

    I guess, it would be a good idea to sacrifice a few hundred books by sending them for free to a select group of people world wide who have some influence over the matter and sane reporters and sane analysts. This small gift will go a long way to make an alliance. Leveretts should think of themselves as religious preachers now. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on final outcome, they have put too much of their credibility on this matter to back down now. So now they can only keep preaching with zeal. It is an uphill battle because the other side of the argument is also very very religious in their ideology (of different character from “liberal” to “conservative” to “congress” to “greenies” to “Iranian sell outs”).

  13. nico says:

    Smith, Fyi,

    Speaking of Pak and for that matter Irak and Afganistan, do you think a stalemate between the US and Iran would improve the situation in those countries ?

    In a stalemate scenario, what do you think would be the next US moves in the region ?
    Do you think sectarian or ethnic conflict will end or that Iran would be able to stabilize the situation ?
    Do you think the instability shall stop at iranian boundaries ?
    What would be the concequences for Iran ?

  14. Smith says:

    Well now that I think of it, a youtube channel is even much better. Since this is going to be a long affair and will take probably at least a few videos.

  15. Ataune says:

    @Smith

    Who are “they” ? I always refrain from propaganda and name calling and thought I was engaged in a constructive discussion. What you didn’t like here ?

  16. Pirouz says:

    That’s a splendid review of Going to Tehran by Porter.

    Over here, another branch of one the public library systems I attend picked up a copy.

    As to the unfair reviews, I’ve challenged a number of folks to pen a substantive rebuttal to Going to Tehran. So far there’s been no takers. But then, how could they? Haters will be haters. It’s an emotion. And who wants to argue against emotion, anyway.

  17. Smith says:

    Ataune says:
    February 28, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    “They” was not directed at you. Whom it was directed at, know it.

    I would urge you to think over it and come up with counter arguments over the issue which I welcome.

  18. Smith says:

    nico says:
    February 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Stalemate with a non-nuclear Iran is not possible since the balance of power is in favor of US and Iran is a sitting duck.

    Overall Iran has been trying to keep the region stable since the end of Iran Iraq war and preaching peacefully for regional countries to adapt independent foreign policy meaning weaning themselves off US. This is central to IRI’s ideology.

    But of course the hostile forces have not been happy about it. In Pakistan they are trying to push it into a wahabi rule by supporting TTP and a large number of shadowy outfits making Pakistan effectively a wahabi colony.

    In Iraq the country that due to its Shia government has found a certain level of foreign policy independence, expect more bloodshed by wahabi groups in times to come. I hope Iranian government does not disappoint Shias there and support them fully in their struggle in hostile grounds. Because if they get disappointed then they can always change allegiance to US.

    In Afghanistan, the situation is fluid but it appears US wants to include Taliban or a faction of Taliban in the government before leaving. Iran’s say in the matter will come later when US has left the region. Then expect a proxy civil war between Iran and Pakistan/Saudi there. Such a civil war has a high probability.

    If by boundaries you mean physical border of Iran, then I think Iranian military is capable of keeping Iran calm even if another civil war breaks out in Afghanistan though still negative consequences flow across loosely monitored Iranian border eg drugs and weapons. But things are going to be calm till Iranian military has not been decimated by US air strikes. If US chooses to do some surgical strikes on Iran, then the adjacent border areas of Iran specially in Kurdish and Baluch areas can get dangerous since Iran does not have any passive defenses on its borders eg. mine fields and a weak military might not be able to give priority to those areas when other strategic places need its attention. Let’s not forget Iran’s defense budget is just only 1.9% of its GDP.

    The consequences for Iran depends on whether Iran has nuclear weapons or not. Without nukes the consequences are not pretty. With nukes there is hope.

  19. kooshy says:

    Ataune says:
    February 28, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    “Her (Israel’s) strategic ambiguity posture with risk balancing deterrence is in par with Iran’s current capability which insures a MAD kind of dissuasion for her without the possession of the actual nuclear device.”

    I agree this is a correct assessment of the new strategic development in the ME region, in which is another of the important reasons for major shifts in the balance of power in ME region.
    As often is said on this forum, this new and now established Iranian capability and its consequential ambiguity will be the main problem for Israel’s ease of maneuvering in the region. This is since technologically Iran is now a recognized nuclear capable state, therefore in any regional strategic planning she will be treated as such regardless if for fact one knows or can guess she has any nuclear war heads ready or not, which ultimately by itself for any strategic planning is a matter of ambiguity which will need to be factored in, very much like no one knows how many war heads Israel has, some like fyi say she can only have 10-20 or like Jimmy Carter who says she has 200 , what would a regional planner considers for any planning to counter Israel? I believe the same ambiguity now needs to be applied to Iran.

  20. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Fiorangela: “Richard Steven Hack, What is your assessment of US decision NOT to send a second carrier to the Persian Gulf, based on “sequestration” restrictions?”

    It’s just political game playing. Most reviews I’ve seen on this “sequestration” thingy is that it’s all hokum intended to get the DoD more money. It will have next to no effect on real military requirements rather than “empire-building.”

    I saw one article where a Congressman listed quite a few ways the US could save money on defense spending without impacting real US security needs at all. Literally $500 billion could be saved over X years.

    That’s a lot of what this idiotic “Asia pivot” is about – a way to gin up tensions with China to justify keeping the incredibly bloated DoD budget. Most experts think the US could cut back to pre-9/11 levels without any harm at all.

    This all goes to show just how much power the military-industrial complex has in this country. They control the DoD. Every retired military flag rank officer ends up on someone’s board of directors at a fat salary and they’ll say anything even before retirement to insure that.

    When the US wants the Iran war started, they’ll pull carriers from anywhere if necessary. Also remember the carrier in support of the Afghan war is immediately available. Pulling one from the Western Pacific around would be easy, too. And my guess is the one undergoing repairs would suddenly be “operational” if an Iran war breaks out any time soon (which I don’t expect until at least next year.)

  21. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Kooshy: Iranian nuclear “ambiguity” isn’t even remotely like Israel’s “faux” ambiguity. Therefore it’s next to worthless for Iran.

    Everyone KNOWS Iran does not have nukes.

    Everyone KNOWS Israel does.

    There’s no ambiguity whatever. And therefore no strategic advantage to Iran or disadvantage to Israel.

  22. fyi says:

    nico says:

    February 28, 2013 at 8:07 pm

    The answer to your questions:

    No.

    Try to herd the cats – Arabs of the Persian Gulf – into a fighting force against Shia/Irani power as well as find more clever ways of wounding Iran economically and financially.

    All wars end, including sectarian ones. It is more relevant the terms that end them. Iranians have wrapped themselves in the universalist flag of Islam, all the while professing a sort of Islamic Pluralism. That makes them attractive over the long term (> 5 years).

    In Lebanon, during the Civil War, the late martyred Kamal Jumbalat hold up the universalist banner of socialism; Syrians murdered him. The late martyred Musa Sadr raised the flag of Islamic pluralism and the Libyans murdered him too. You see, those two were sketching a positive vision and thus had to be eliminated.

    Iran does not have the power to stabilize those states – Axis Powers as well as other have done their best preventing her from getting to that state.

    Yes,

    The consequence is that Iranians will pick up the pieces after Axis Powers and their local allies have destroyed the China Shop.

  23. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Very nice Scott Horton interview with the Leveretts. Long – an hour – and worth listening to.

    2/26/13 Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett
    http://scotthorton.org/2013/02/27/22613-flynt-and-hillary-mann-leverett/

    Download MP3 here: http://dissentradio.com/radio/13_02_26_leverett.mp3

  24. fyi says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    February 28, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    It is just Kabuki – like the Peace Process in Palestine after the late Rabin’s murder by IDF.

  25. kooshy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    February 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm

    Rich

    If, Iran can make very advance centrifuges which manufacturing of it is not monitored.
    If, Iran has the knowhow and capability to enrich to LEU20%.
    What makes you think Iran has not yet built or can build a nuclear bomb.

    I am not saying Iran has a bomb, or will have or even need to have, I have argued that it’s not strategically beneficial for Iran, what I am saying is, as for this new facts (Iran’s proven capabilities) any regional strategic plan/ decision will need to factor in this new possibility. By doing that means counter balancing a possible power shift.

    Just imagine if any new ME strategic plan is required to consider new measures to counter this new “possible” capabilities of Iran, that did not exist before, what would that mean?

  26. fy says:

    All:

    This assessment is correct in its major points in my view; the sanction relief are not worth anything to Iran etc.

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/02/iran-talks-uranium-enrichment-p51-talks-diplomacy-demands.html

    Process is going to be the main achievement.

  27. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    IQ 146,
    I doubt you have ever stepped foot in Pakistan or spent any significant time with Pakistanis. The only keyboard warrior here is you.

    Your way of insisting on nuclear weapons and trying to out-nationalist the very people who have fought for their country when you were a mere twinkle in the eye of your father is suspicious.

    If you want to help that’s fine, otherwise please kindly put a sock in it.

    fyi,
    Military planners with limited resources- meaning all military planners except Pentagon planners, chickenhawks and keyboard warriors- have to look at intent and then look at capabilities.

    You got it ass backwards.

    Your belief in evil undercover takfiri generals in Pakistan itching to nuke Iran is closer to the realm of dream world.

  28. Karl... says:

    toivos,

    They are being attacked as being apologist for the generally despised regime in Tehran. I think they have already dealt with that charge with their China opening analogy. Nixon and Kissinger went to China at the same time as the cultural revolution was in effect. They just need to repeat that again and again in the face of antiIran propaganda.

    —–

    I have to disagree, these people have no interests in dealing with the facts and arguments that Leveretts present, they are out to destroy and smear their charachter and names (which in turn would generate less interests for their views, book, blog etc). These people have no interests whatsoever embracing what Leveretts are saying, thus Leveretts should have no interests in dealing with these people in my opinion.
    Its like Israel and Palestine issue when people get attacked with slurs and antisemitic charges, these people have also no interest in a legit debate they only want to silent legit criticism. Picking up on these baits by these people are also also time consuming.
    “Dont feed the troll” is a good principle.

  29. Neo says:

    Great review indeed. Am going to order a few copies of the book and distribute to friends. It’s incredible how difficult it is to get through to people when it comes to Iran. But the turning point appears to be at hand. If only either one of the Leveretts would run for US president…

    RSH, fyi et al,

    The turn of events appears to negate your overall pessimism, no?

    James,

    Your 20% theory appears to be undermined significantly now. It seems that all powers involved are quite prepared to live with Iran’s 20% capability – something that you have consistently refused to acknowledge. Not long ago, the US was adamant that there should be no enrichment in Iran. In response, Iran raised the stakes much higher, and that strategy seems to have worked. So Iran’s decision to stockpile 20% enriched uranium was quite strategic, don’t you think? Especially in a context of breaking down the Israeli-US hegemonic designs for the region.

  30. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    In-depth discussion of matters not usually found in US media.

    John Cusack Interviews Law Professor Jonathan Turley About Obama Administration’s War On the Constitution

    http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/11264-john-cusack-and-jonathan-turley-on-obamas-constitution

  31. Sineva says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    February 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm
    Yes,but will that assumption still hold true 6 months after a us/israeli attack when iran has withdrawn from the npt and renounced the fatwa on nuclear weapons and the us/israel can no longer say with any confidence that iran does not have the bomb,this I think is a powerful deterrent,that any military action could lead to the exact outcome they are so desperate to avoid

  32. fy says:

    Neo says:

    March 1, 2013 at 4:45 am

    We shall see.

  33. fy says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says:

    March 1, 2013 at 3:59 am

    When you fight a war, it matters not how it started.

    What is important is do you have enough war material and weapons to respond to enemy’s escalations.

  34. imho says:

    Smith,

    Shia Sunni divide didn’t begin at that period but was obvious with US forces letting Shia mosques being bombed, on their way out. One could argue they even facilitated those bombings. This is in line with Arab Spring events that succeeded and which were a controlled demolition process of Arab governments to bring in instability which was the objective. This has been implemented using Jihadi/Wahhabi forces that US know so well after so many years of collaboration. One can’t deny the facts on the ground, that is, secular governments fell one after another beginning with Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, now Syria and tomorrow Jordan, etc. It would be extremely naive to pretend US lost suddenly control of these events specially after Obama’s speech in Cairo. He actually gave the GO of these transformations whether by desperation or intentionally for further future goals.
    That is to say I share your concerns about Pak’s Arabisation into Wahhabi/Takfiri heaven. But I don’t get how few bombs could dissuade those Wahhabis to nuke Iranian cities if they can get their hands on those bombs (they won’t, the same way they couldn’t get Assad chemicals). First, Iran must have a second strike capability, that is more than a handful of bombs. Second, if a nuclear power, say US, Israel or Pakistan, wants complete annihilation of Iranian nation by nuking every major cities, one bomb or two will not change the equation without any second strike capability. Third, Iranian defense strategy until now has been based on asymmetric forces that could bring hell on Axis forces in the region. The absence of war and US forces leaving Iraq are the best proof that it has worked so far.
    Again, I agree the developments in Pakistan is a major concern for Iran and I think Iranians are well aware of that. They were fighting them, the same Wahhabis, in Afghanistan even if not so successfully but they know them well.
    I also agree that having the capability to build nukes alone can’t be so dissuasive. The nations having that capability rely primarily on US guarantee for their security anyway. I see it more as a prestige and scientific and technological know-how a nation must have in the way toward modernization. I believe the know-how and scientific progress are far more worrisome for the west.

  35. Rd. says:

    “… “Unfortunately, as always, the West’s promises are smaller than its actions,” said Samir Nashar, a businessman from Aleppo and a founding member of the Syrian Coalition of Opposition and Revolutionary Forces, the umbrella group set up last year at the United States’ behest….”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/02/28/184515/us-vow-of-non-lethal-aid-for-syrian.html?storylink=addthis#.UTB6FpzOkoU.blogger

    These imbeciles haven’t figured out the US is not interested in their cause..

    Hundreds of foreign jihadists leave Syria

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2013-02/26/c_124391005.htm

  36. Fiorangela says:

    Neo, there’s another phenomenon that takes place when one is attacked by those spewing half-truths: the compulsion to figure out WHY they are making obviously illogical statements, and what they are hiding by doing so.

    Ambassador Richard Butler alluded to the phenomenon in his talk in the Penn State Symposium. Butler said that when he was leading teams that were inspecting Iraqi nuclear facilities, if Iraqis told the team they could not enter this or that door, Butler instructed the team to “break down the door.” The assumption that a forbidden door presents is that there is something to hide.

    I have learned a great deal after having been called names and been on the receiving end of attacks: the experience creates a kind of energy field that demands that the situation be made right, or at least that I find out if and how either I, or the attacker, have erred.

  37. James Canning says:

    Phip Stephens, writing in the Financial Times today (“A too cautious president cannot shut out the world’): “In truth, Barack Obama would like to leave the Middle East behind. Yet what is missing is anything resembling a grand strategy.” All too true.

  38. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    In the piece by Mohammad Ali Shabani that you linked, he claims the P5+1 is willing to allow continuing enrichment to 20% by Iran, and that Iran will not be obliged to export its excess stocks of that material. I think he is maistaken on both points.

  39. James Canning says:

    Russia Today report Feb. 28th: “Iran would also now be able to keep enough enriched uranium to produce medical isotopes [at TRR].”

    http://rt.com/news/p5+1-eases-demands-at-almaty-591/

  40. James Canning says:

    BiBiJon,

    In the review of the Leveretts’ new book, by Laur Secor, that you linked, she claims the Leveretts “purport to know” how Iranians think about their government. She apparently is trying to suggest that polls taken in Iran cannot be relied upon, but she does not say so directly.

  41. Richard Steven Hack says:

    The Wall Street Journal blasts the Leveretts – apparently the major point is they allegedly got the number of kosher restaurants in Iran wrong… LOL

    I Heart Khomeini
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324156204578274133698608900.html

  42. Richard Steven Hack says:

    kooshy: “What makes you think Iran has not yet built or can build a nuclear bomb.”

    Never said anything about “can build” or not.

    I say Iran has never built a bomb because they don’t want to.

    I say Iran cannot build a bomb and not be attacked either before or immediately after doing so. And once attacked, they cannot build another because that’s not feasible in a hot war.

    “as for this new facts (Iran’s proven capabilities) any regional strategic plan/ decision will need to factor in this new possibility. By doing that means counter balancing a possible power shift.”

    While there may some idiot strategic planners who will factor in that Iran has the “capability” to build a bomb within, say, a year or so from whatever current position they’re in, this is not a serious “capability” because of the points made above.

    Iran is not Japan. China or North Korea has to take into account Japan as a strategic factor. Because Japan can make MANY bombs in a year if they want to – and they’ve said so. Because Japan is under the US strategic unbrella. Because Japan has the industrial and military capacity to be a threat given the time to upgrade their force level to match or even over-match China’s.

    None of that applies to Iran vis-a-vis anyone in their neighborhood except Iraq – which is no longer a threat. Iran can never match or threaten Israel. They cannot match or threaten Turkey. They certainly are a joke compared to the US.

    And everyone else in the neighborhood knows this. So no one is going to bother to bring Iran’s “capability” – which is as minimal as it gets, being limited to making perhaps one to six undeliverable bombs in a year – into their strategic calculations.

    Now if the US and Israel were to back off, and Iran were to ACTUALLY MAKE six nuclear weapons AND manage to make a warhead to carry them and actually DEPLOY them – THEN everyone would be taking that into their strategic calculations. Obviously.

    As it stands, Iran has NO “capability”. It just has a bunch of LEU (not really that much, allegedly enough for a few bombs if that, some of which would have to be tested like North Korea), maybe some designs for a bomb or even a warhead. That’s not “capability” to the same level as Japan.

    Iran is not a military threat to anyone outside their borders and everyone knows it.

  43. fyi says:

    James Canning says:

    March 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Academic and futile exercises in political journalism without any connection to the underlying reality; geopolitical confronation that is going to persist for decades.

  44. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Fiorangela:

    “Neo, there’s another phenomenon that takes place when one is attacked by those spewing half-truths: the compulsion to figure out WHY they are making obviously illogical statements, and what they are hiding by doing so…

    I have learned a great deal after having been called names and been on the receiving end of attacks: the experience creates a kind of energy field that demands that the situation be made right, or at least that I find out if and how either I, or the attacker, have erred.”

    Congratulations. Now you know why I get pissed off at some people here… :-) Except I know from experience that when someone spews out half-truths and misrepresentations of one’s position that those individuals are intellectually dishonest butt-heads. There IS NO other explanation except malice for their own emotional reasons.

  45. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Sineva: “Yes,but will that assumption still hold true 6 months after a us/israeli attack when iran has withdrawn from the npt and renounced the fatwa on nuclear weapons”

    First, Iran is unlikely to do that – not under the current administration.

    Second, as I’ve said, under the conditions of a “hot war”, it is not possible for Iran to build a deliverable nuclear device – certainly not enough to be able to either end the hot war or deter any further attacks from the US, if not Israel.

    Not to mention the original issue was “ambiguity” not the actual building of bombs. Israel’s “ambiguity” is a political stance not a reality in anyone’s strategic considerations. Israel HAS nukes and everyone KNOWS that.

  46. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Neo: “The turn of events appears to negate your overall pessimism, no?”

    Not in the slightest. It just reveals the Pollyanna nature of everyone else.

    When a SERIOUS deal – not a “baby step” – is actually SIGNED AND IMPLEMENTED BY BOTH PARTIES, THEN you can talk about “negated my pessimism.”

    Good luck with that.

  47. Castellio says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says: March 1, 2013 at 3:59 am

    Thank you.

  48. Richard Steven Hack says:

    More conspiracy theory…from the usual suspect, Fox News…

    Is Iran outsourcing its nuclear program to North Korea?
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/02/28/is-iran-outsourcing-nuclear-program-to-north-korea/

    Someone like Gareth needs to research this and debunk it.

  49. Scott Lucas says:

    Richard Steven Hack:

    Thank you very much for posting to Laura Secor’s review in The New York Times. It is an excellent contrast in its analysis to the elegy to the Leveretts by Porter.

  50. James Canning says:

    Neo,

    Steven Erlanger, reporting for The New York Times Feb. 27th (“Six Nations Await Iran’s Response to Overture in Nuclear Talks”) : “The six powers want Iran, as a first step, to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent and to export its stockpile of that more highly enriched uranium…” [pageA6]

  51. James Canning says:

    Fouad Ajami, writing in the Wall Street Journal Feb. 28th (“John Kerry’s Syrian Second Chance”): “In Bashar [al-Assad], and his stylish British-born wife, [Kerry] saw a modern couple bent on opening up a drab and sterile dictatorship.”

    Kerry’s assessment was reasonable.

  52. James Canning says:

    Philip Stephens asks, in his column in the Financial Times March 1st: “Where is the diplomatic demarche that turns the present pro-forma talks between Iran and the international community into a serious bilateral negotiation between Washington and Tehran?”

  53. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    I think your confidence the confrontation between Iran and “the West” (including Russia, China, Japan), can go on for decades, is unwarranted by the facts.

  54. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Some of the best reporting from Syria comes from Franklin Lamb who is IN Syria for Counterpunch.

    The Oft-Predicted Fickle Syrian ‘Tipping Point’ Has Tipped
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/01/the-oft-predicted-fickle-syrian-tipping-point-has-tipped/

    Notable Quote:

    What Washington fears, according to a source at the same interlocutor from the Russian embassy who spoke with this observer for nearly two hours, is the confirmation that the Syrian opposition is ready to immediately enter into negotiations with the Syrian government without preconditions and that President Assad’s departure or even his future status will not be part of the process.

    The Russians believe that the rebels are finally coming around to a more realistic approach after the recent achievements of the governments is gaining support from the population here and on both military and political levels. This is more than anathema to Washington and its allies. It is not less than catastrophic and will not be allowed despite NATO’s rhetoric to the contrary. Thus the new fake proposals.

    The new “Non-lethal aid” has been designed to somehow reverse the “tipping point” chosen by a majority of the Syrian population over the past few months. These aggressive actions, rather than constituting neutral humanitarian aid given to the 11 major objective and neutral international NGO’s operating across Syria, and pressuring all sides to show up at the dialogue table, is certain to prolong the conflict as they condemn countless more Syrians to death.

    End Quote

  55. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Worth reading even though it has nothing to do with Iran – but a LOT to do with US geopolitical strategy in the Middle East and especially North Africa and Muslims.

    Neo-Imperialism and the Arrogance of Ignorance
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/01/neo-imperialism-and-the-arrogance-of-ignorance/

  56. kooshy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Yes, I understand what you are saying is just like “you go (start) to war with the army you have not the army you want” and then the rest is just another cake walk.

    Lovely

  57. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Kaveh Afrasiabi’s assessment of the Almaty talks.

    Iran nuclear talks reach a turning point
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MID-01-010313.html

    Notable Quotes

    Still, both Jalili and other members of the Iranian delegation pointed out that there is a problem of disproportionality and lack of fit between the other side’s offers, for example for gradual easing the sanctions, and their demands.

    Irrespective of such anticipated problems, the Almaty meeting was a mini-victory for Iran’s long battle to defend its nuclear rights, the US and its allies opted to ease their onerous demands on Iran and concentrated their efforts to getting Tehran’s compliance with a number of “confidence-building” steps such as with respect to Iran’s 20% uranium enrichment.

    Describing the talks as “constructive,” “upbeat” and “useful,” the representatives of “5 + 1” nations also confirmed Iran’s assessment of a positive meeting that by all accounts was a major improvement over the last rounds in Baghdad and Moscow. The mere fact that an early date for the next meeting, in Almaty in early April, was set is considered a big plus, reflecting the talks moving in the right direction. Still, there is a long road ahead and it may prove bumpier than expected.

    Questioning American intentions
    No sooner had the Almaty talks ended than the US government announced that it has adopted a new policy of aiding and training the Syrian rebels. In turn, this raises question of whether or not the US is play-acting in its engagement with Iran while it charts an interventionist role in Syria in hope of regime change in Damascus.

    Another question concerns whether the Obama administration is really capable of delivering a major sanctions relief as part of a quid pro quo with Iran that would fall short of a complete suspension of Iran’s nuclear program, as requested by Israel and its supporters in the US Congress. The latter have prepared yet another Iran sanctions bill, and 36 US senators have sent a letter to the European Union urging tougher sanctions.

    Since the Moscow talks eight months ago, Obama has signed several executive orders against Iran and there is simply no sign of that Iran-bashing behavior easing in Washington. Obama and his foreign policy team talk soft while carrying a long stick, their offer of new engagement with Iran still is mired in a thick air of ambiguity. Could it be that it is simply a clever veneer for a “Syria first, then Iran” strategy? Time will tell.

    End Quote

    “Syria first, then Iran” strategy… Exactly what I’ve said here in this thread.

  58. James Canning says:

    Anyone else find it amazing that Bob Woodward claimed it was a form of madness” for Obama not to have two gigantic nuclear-powered aircraft carriers on duty in the Persian Gulf?

  59. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    February 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Here he goes again…

    “This all goes to show just how much power the military-industrial complex has in this country. They control the DoD.”

    Sure, they have power, but not enough power to even prevail with their own Republican allies to prevent the removal of 1 trillion dollars in future profits. Just goes to show reality does not always agree with your preconceptions.

    “Most reviews I’ve seen on this “sequestration” thingy is that it’s all hokum intended to get the DoD more money.”

    So how does reducing the amount of money received equal getting more money?

    “When the US wants the Iran war started, they’ll pull carriers from anywhere if necessary.”

    Not the ones that are stuck without any fuel because the reduction in budgets delayed their refueling process (which is now scheduled to take between 3 1/2 to 4 years). Surprisingly an aircraft carrier cannot travel anywhere if it does not have fuel.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Refueling_and_Overhaul

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/shall-not-perish-rcoh-for-cvn-72-uss-abraham-lincoln-06255/

    http-://www.wvec.com/my-city/nnews/Breaking-Abraham-Lincoln-overhaul-delayed–190402871.html

    “Also remember the carrier in support of the Afghan war is immediately available.”

    And which one is that?

    http-://www.navy.mil/navydata/nav_legacy.asp?id=146

    Good to know Mr. Hack knows more about current carrier deployments than the US Navy. Good to know that the US can easily withdraw the single active carrier it maintains in the Pacific and replace it with…oh. Note the George Washington is in dock in Japan and already has a backlog of repairs preceding its own 2015 RCOH. Oh and that has now been delayed as well.

    “if an Iran war breaks out any time soon (which I don’t expect until at least next year.)”

    So the apocalypse has been delayed once againg. But don’t worry, the most reliable sources predict, with absolute and unerring accuracy, it will definitely occur in 2014.

  60. Richard Steven Hack says:

    New Light on the CIA Coup in Iran on its 60th Anniversary: Why “Argo” Needs a Prequel (Sternfeld)
    http://www.juancole.com/2013/03/anniversary-prequel-sternfeld.html

  61. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    February 28, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Of course the point here is not to deny that the US could potentially deploy perhaps two or at most three aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean near Iran. It is that they would have no element of surprise when they do so. In the event of any US attack, Iran will have ample advance warning which will give it far more time than it needs to fully prepare its forces to destroy those carriers in the event of any US aggression against it.

  62. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    “The new “Non-lethal aid” has been designed to somehow reverse the “tipping point” chosen by a majority of the Syrian population over the past few months. These aggressive actions, rather than constituting neutral humanitarian aid given to the 11 major objective and neutral international NGO’s operating across Syria, and pressuring all sides to show up at the dialogue table, is certain to prolong the conflict”

    Note: Prolong, not change the inveitable outcome which will be complete victory for the Syrian people and army.

  63. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Justin Raimondo on The Syrian Back Door to War With Iran
    Arming the Syrian rebels is a very bad idea whose time may have come
    http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2013/02/28/the-syrian-back-door-to-war-with-iran/

    Quotes

    The irony is that the West is now pointing to the success of these groups as a reason to intervene: we cannot permit them to gain a foothold in “post-Assad Syria.”

    That’s a classic example of creating a problem and then solving it with more of the same misguided policies: aid has been flowing to these Islamist groups via our Sunni allies for over a year. Yet now we claim we must intervene more directly in order to ensure that the consequences of our past policies don’t ensure a victory for “extremists.”

    End Quotes

    Exactly as I’ve said – eventually the excuse for a foreign military intervention will become “we can’t allow Syria to become the new HQ for Al Qaeda” and “we can’t allow Hizballah to get chemical weapons.”

    And Obama won’t need a UN Resolution to do that – he can cite the existing US anti-terrorist law which authorizes him to kill anyone anywhere at any time as long as it’s related by some stretch to “terrorism”.

    NATO will follow suit under its own Charter – and Israel doesn’t give a damn about UNSC Resolutions.

    This is how the US and NATO will bypass any Russian/Chinese UN vetos: by allowing the Syrian civil war to get bad enough that they can claim they need to intervene to prevent Syria from becoming a “safe haven” for terrorists.

    Never mind that this is unachievable. It’s just an excuse to knock over Syria and Hizballah for the reasons I’ve cited, i.e., getting an Iran war.

    This is becoming so obvious now that it’s mind-boggling that it isn’t so to most “pundits”.

  64. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    “Second, as I’ve said, under the conditions of a “hot war”, it is not possible for Iran to build a deliverable nuclear device – certainly not enough to be able to either end the hot war or deter any further attacks from the US, if not Israel.”

    And as the substantial amount of evidence I have presented proves which you have repeatedly ignored the “hot” war will end when the world economy collapses under the pressure of severe shortages and paying 15+ dollars a gallon for gas (in the US) and not having enough petroleum inputs to sustain agriculture and critical industry. By contrast, it is entirely possible (meaning within the capability, but not necessarily the desire) for Iran to build multiple bombs within 6 months at most in the event of such a conflict.

  65. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    “And Obama won’t need a UN Resolution to do that – he can cite the existing US anti-terrorist law which authorizes him to kill anyone anywhere at any time as long as it’s related by some stretch to “terrorism”.

    And the mutual defense treaty that exists between Syria and Iran “authorizes” Iran to decimate any force that tries to attack Syria with its 1,000s of accurate missiles. Not of course even including the huge damage that Syria could do with its vast arsenal of missiles, etc.

    “This is how the US and NATO will bypass any Russian/Chinese UN vetos: by allowing the Syrian civil war to get bad enough that they can claim they need to intervene to prevent Syria from becoming a “safe haven” for terrorists.”

    You know how much difference that justification will make to the Iranian missiles, drones, bombs, and mines that will close the strait of Hormuz and destroy the airbases that aggression would be launched from? Not one whit.

  66. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    “No sooner had the Almaty talks ended than the US government announced that it has adopted a new policy of aiding and training the Syrian rebels”

    And this is where the author of the article (and you) make a key mistake. There is no “new” policy of arming the FSA. This policy has existed from the beginning. The US does not need to arm the FSA directly, it gains no advantage from doing so. It merely needs to instruct or “allow” Qatar and Saudi Arabia to do so. They have done so and they are failing miserably. It will continue to do so, and it will continue to fail.

  67. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Neo: “The turn of events appears to negate your overall pessimism, no?”

    I would not describe it as “pessimism” but as actively wishing a certain thing will happen, in this case war, allegedly for the reason that it will prove his argument is true.

  68. ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    “I say Iran cannot build a bomb and not be attacked either before or immediately after doing so. And once attacked, they cannot build another because that’s not feasible in a hot war.”

    Yes it can. The quality of “intelligence” that the US has on Iran is a joke, primarily provided by exile groups who have no significant ties inside Iran and certainly no access to Iranian military intelligence, etc. Yet another example of you devaluing Iran and its abilities. The reason Iran will not build a bomb is solely and entirely because it does not want to do so. If that reasoning changes than it will.

    “Because Japan has the industrial and military capacity to be a threat given the time to upgrade their force level to match or even over-match China’s.”

    No, because Japan is entirely dependent on imports to provide raw materials for it’s industry and it would be similarly dependent in the event of war with China. It could not pose a credible threat to China by itself, and in reality not even with the non nuclear assistance of the US.

    “Iran can never match or threaten Israel.”

    Umm yes it can and has. Once again, comparative size of Israeli and Iranian economies. Review and learn. Iran can easily wipe out strategic Israeli airbases, air defenses, etc with just a few hundred conventionally armed missiles. Israel could not hope to do the same.

    “They cannot match or threaten Turkey.”

    Iranian economy is larger than Turkey’s and its military is more capable in the role it needs to perform (to fight defensively and to protect key allies in case of US attack). Try again.

    “They certainly are a joke compared to the US.”

    The only joke here is the belief that the US whose air force and navy is struggling to maintain 40% of its aircraft in operational condition could somehow fight a multi year war with Iran without reliable oil supplies while all its bases in the region are subject to constant attack by Iranian missiles and its economy is collapsing. Once again, I await your explanation of how the US could invade Iran when its only approach is across the Persian Gulf and every base it would rely on to do so is vulnerable to Iranian missile barrage.

  69. Smith says:

    imho says:
    March 1, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I tend to stand for the worst case scenario than live in a fools paradise.

    The Shia Sunni divide has always been there and will always be there. But what we are seeing today is not the traditional ideological differences between Shia and Sunni. This is entirely something else. Better to name it wahabi Shia divide. This has been getting worse since the end of Caliphate and imposition of wahabis by British Islamic world. Without western patronage wahabis and their ideology can not survive three weeks.

    Syria is not Pakistan. In Syria a very committed Alawite military is fighting to prevent a coming genocide of Alawites, Shias, Christians, Kurds and Sunni moderates. In Pakistan, the worry is with increasing propagation of wahabism both in society and military a soft inside coup would bring a nightmarish situation for Iran. Furthermore chemical weapons are not nuclear weapons. Not by a long shot. Saddam had used over 100000 chemical munitions on Iranians. He could hardly achieve temporary tactical advantages with such use. If Saddam had only 120 nukes as Pakistan is said to have, the situation for him and for Iran would been entirely different. He would not have to use them. All he had to do was to threaten their use and Iran would have given up fighting.

    Iran as of now does not need a second strike capability. What Iran needs is to have a credible nuclear deterrence that can raise the stakes and show any malign thinking adversary that the costs of any attack on Iran is going to be very high. When China had first developed nuclear weapons, its stockpile consisted of only a dozen or so nuclear weapons. Second strike capability only comes in context of MAD which is itself only one of many nuclear deterrence theories. Iran can go the way of India or China both of which practice the minimal deterrence capability option and not MAD and no second strike capability.

    With increasing military build up on Iran’s borders and the introduction of ever more sophisticated missile defense systems out there, the conventional Iranian asymmetric capabilities are evaporating. Iran will soon have to extend its asymmetric capabilities to include declared nuclear weapons. Today if a wahabi grouped controlled by saudis/us take over nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, Iran has no way to deter Riyadh.

    And this is only the case for Pakistan. There are 8 other declared nuclear powers on planet with their military alliances with many more nations. Iran can not any more depend on its conventional forces to provide for its security in the coming world.

    Iran’s security can very well be provided by a small arsenal of nuclear weapons as part of a minimal nuclear deterrence option. Not a first use. And not certainly against a non-nuclear country. These parameters should be made crystal clear when Iran goes nuclear as they are central to how nuclear deterrence works.

    By the way, already there are people who are arguing for this inside and outside of Iran. This is nothing new. Even among Iranian public you can hear people wanting this. After all this suffering at least some positive and long lasting security will be established when Iran goes nuclear. For centuries Iran has been living under a security paradigm made by colonial powers from the days of “The Great Game” to now. It is time for this to change.

  70. fy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    March 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Japan is a marginal strategic threat to China.

    1/3 of the Japanese population as well as almost all of her industrial base is within a 100-mile radius of the Yokohama Bay.

  71. fy says:

    James Canning says:

    March 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    My opinion is based on the nature of sanctions against Iran, the diametrical positions on Palestine, Afghanistan, NPT, UN, Persian Gulf, and Iraq by Iran and Axis Powers, the religious components of the confrontation as well as an elementary application of Bayesian statistics.

    Please state your reasons to the contrary – that is if you have any.

  72. kooshy says:

    I think he is just back at hyping on Iran’s capabilities, but one never can know?

    How Iran Went Nuclear

    “Even assuming that Iran’s regime has no secret facilities, it could go the North Korea route—defined by Mr. Heinonen as deciding “Enough is enough, to heck with this, we’ll build a nuclear weapon”—in “a month or two,” he says. The precise timing would depend on how (and how well) Iranian engineers go about enriching their uranium stocks to weapons-grade purity. But in any case, Mr. Heinonen notes, Iran’s breakout would likely outpace the ability of the “international community” to respond.”

    “Mr. Heinonen is emphatic that the IAEA is in the prevention business, yet he also explains that Iran might be past the nuclear point of no return—and that years of IAEA missteps are partly to blame.

    Even assuming that Iran’s regime has no secret facilities, it could go the North Korea route—defined by Mr. Heinonen as deciding “Enough is enough, to heck with this, we’ll build a nuclear weapon”—in “a month or two,” he says. The precise timing would depend on how (and how well) Iranian engineers go about enriching their uranium stocks to weapons-grade purity. But in any case, Mr. Heinonen notes, Iran’s breakout would likely outpace the ability of the “international community” to respond.”

    “Mr. Heinonen’s implication is that an Iranian bomb is now simply a matter of Tehran’s will, not capability—despite two decades of international effort to prevent it. How did this happen?”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323978104578329890771686954.html

  73. Pirouz says:

    The best part of Secor’s take was this bit at the end…

    “Laura Secor is writing a book about Iran.”

    Reminds me of “Slaughterhouse Five” where the guy in the next bunk is feverishly writing a book on Dresden and hears the guy next to him was actually there. He retorts”Let him write his own book!”

    Has Secor any official experience in the USG dealing with IRI counterparts?

    Does Secor travel to Iran regularly and socially interacted with nearly fall relevant factions of Iranian politics?

    We hear a lot about the law enforcement crackdown in Tehran in 2009. Heck, I’m from San Francisco. I’ve personally witnessed that kind of thing in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s. I walked through the downtown section of burnt out Watts in ’65, where a week before National Guard troops restored order with submachine gun fire. I’ve seen unruly sports fans felled by rubber bullets on the streets of Oakland, not many years before the action where order was restored in Tehran. It never made me believe our American “regime” and constitution was illegitimate. But for folks like Secor, I guess that kind of thing is all that matters where it concerns somebody else’s country.

  74. Pirouz says:

    But you know what? If Secor can strike down the Leverett’s take on the ’09 election and Brill’s analysis with actual evidence, I’ve an open mind.

    So far, no one has been able to do it. Scott and his “green meanies” gave a valiant try but fell short. Trita and Sahimi won’t even try, save lip service on the part of Trita and emotional ranting by Sahimi.

    Let’s see what Secor comes up with. I’m always willing to have my mind changed. If those polls had consistently shown the opposite, I’d have been swayed. But for true partisans, like Trita and it looks like Secor, too, it’s “polls schmolls” and that’s about it.

  75. Pirouz says:

    Cyrus Safdari had a post a few weeks ago where he took exception to a few points in Going to Tehran, and found that the book’s premise of going to Tehran wasn’t going to happen.

    I told him he had to read more into Going to Tehran, it offering the opening of public discussion in much the same way Walt and Mearsheimer did with “The Israel Lobby”. To me, that’s the real contribution the Leveretts have made with their book.

  76. Loftali says:

    I agree with your assessments and I applaud your work, but I do find that your unwillingness to acknowledge the shortcomings of Iran’s government undermines your credibility. To suggest, as you do, that these shortcomings are largely a matter of a lack of “greater cultural and social pluralism” is to put it euphemistically in the extreme.

  77. Neo says:

    Fiorangela says: March 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I’m afraid I’m not familiar enough with the context of your comment – and perhaps simply not sharp enough – to fully get your meaning there. But if you are questioning the motivation of some individuals, I certainly agree that it is much harder to come across the personality type that is willing to learn from mistakes and grow with the flow at the expense of the ego. Personally, I always try to remind myself that advancements in knowledge (as in science) are more often than not predicated on proving something wrong (like Newtonian physics is wrong when applied to particles). Refusing to acknowledge errors, on the other hand, hinders our progress or condition (a truism, of course). But then, there’s a major assumption in wishing people would follow such a simple dictum: that there is no other agenda that is truly unconcerned with seeking a better understanding of events. So I guess it boils down to working out whether the issue is with a personality trait (pride/ego/dishonesty etc) or an unstated agenda. Or perhaps these two too are inter-dependent? Many would excuse their own hidden agendas by considering themselves beyond good and evil or in service of some cosmic cause way above such ‘frivolities’.

  78. Neo says:

    Richard Steven Hack says: March 1, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    “It just reveals the Pollyanna nature of everyone else.”

    Richard (and fy),

    Sometimes it is right to take yes for an answer.

    The moment that the US administration switched from a secretary of state – who had actually threatened to annihilate Iran and missed no chance to prostrate herself at the alter of Zionism – to one who had testified against warcrimes in Vietnam; and then went on to appoint a defence secretary who had specifically said he was not in service of Israel, and who has steadfastly opposed US military adventurism, it was clear that the ship had changed course.

    Today we also know that those warships have had their budgets cut significantly, just days after Hagel’s tortuous appointment. This is because the US is probably not interested in economic suicide.

    Add to this the patent absurdity of any claims of a significant threat emanating from Iran, one has to wonder, what is there to be pessimistic about right now? Are you hanging on to the idea of an ‘inevitable’ sabotage from the Zionist camp? Problem with this position is that Israel would not survive a war with Iran. So, once again, what is the main driver that convinces you so much? Please explain.

  79. Neo says:

    Loftali says: March 2, 2013 at 7:49 am

    Loftali,

    When was the last time Iran experienced greater pluralism for any sustained period in its long history?

  80. Neo says:

    ExposingNeoConWarmongeringStooges says: March 1, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    “I would not describe it as “pessimism” but as actively wishing a certain thing will happen, in this case war…”

    Exposing-ji

    I’d guess Richard is convinced that USA will not allow any nation to challenge its hegemony on any level or at any cost, especially in the Middle East. He would have been right about that a decade or 2 ago when the ‘sole superpower’ nonsense really went to its delusional head (witness the PNAC farce). But the empire is broke and it knows it. Richard has yet to internalise this change, for he probably cannot believe that the ‘system’ is capable of adaptation. But it is capable of that, totally.

  81. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    fyi,
    In the theoretical strategic debates in western academia I usually tend to agree with the realist positions. In the war, we went beyond it in practice.

    You and certain other keyboard warriors are still stuck in theoretical realism because of lack of real world experience in these matters.

    From a real warrior to all keyboard warriors:

    http://farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13911211000083

    وی یادآور شد: یکی از ویژگی‌های جنگ ما که نابرابری‌ها را کنار زد، ابتکاراتی بود که در صحنه دفاع مقدس اتفاق افتاد؛ فرق ما با ارتش‌های کلاسیک دنیا در یک کلمه بود؛ اگر بخواهیم فرق حاج احمدمتوسلیان، حاج‌همت، فرماندهان گردان شهید را با یک فرمانده کلاسیک ارتش دنیا را علاوه بر موضوعات معنوی و رفتاری بدانیم، کلمه «بیا و برو» بود؛ یعنی فرمانده ما در صحنه جنگ می‌ایستادند جلو و می‌گفت: «بیا» اما فرمانده کلاسیک می‌ایستاد، عقب و می‌گفت: «برو

    IQ 146,
    “I tend to stand for the worst case scenario than live in a fools paradise.”

    Well congratulations to you for standing for something, mashallah, very rare these days among the young folks.

    Your stand is nice when sitting at home behind the keyboard. It’s completely useless when having to deal with real issues in the real world with real budget, time and resource constraints. But I’m sure you with your superior intelligence already knew this. Sorry to rain on your parade.

    “What Iran needs is to have a credible nuclear deterrence that can raise the stakes and show any malign thinking adversary that the costs of any attack on Iran is going to be very high.”

    The costs of any attack on Iran is currently and presently and at the moment, very high. That is precisely why the US and Israel have not attacked. Nuclear latency does what you want without the political and financial costs involved with having nuclear weapons.

    As you don’t care about ethical arguments against nuclear weapons, I won’t bother your superior intelligence you with them, only to say that precisely because we didn’t respond in kind to chemical attacks, Iran is powerful today and Iraq is well…the same is true for our moral position against nuclear weapons. Of course you are as Machiavelli and friends, “amoral” on this matter which is actually logically not possible because every position taken is inherently moral…ask Unknown Unknowns to explain it to you if your superior intelligence doesn’t grasp it.

    “Today if a wahabi grouped controlled by saudis/us take over nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, Iran has no way to deter Riyadh.”

    Actually you are wrong. We do deter Riyadh as we speak in the most awesome way (sorry your hyperbole is contagious) . It’s called bombing the oilfields across the PG with our crude 1960s technology rockets. As a scary Sepah dude once said, “If Iran can’t export oil, nobody will be able to.”

    The PG is the testicles of the world and Iran is firmly but gently squeezing it. Got it, grasshopper?

    And let me remind you that Israel was recently bombarded with Fajr rockets- “Iron Dome” and all.

    If you had a little sense of humor, you would grasp how truly “funny” that is.

  82. BiBiJon says:

    Ambiguity on a silver platter
    ============================

    kooshy says:
    March 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    One of the side-effects of inept western handling of the Iranian nuclear file has been to bestow upon it a Vanunu-esque ambiguity which now can never be dislodged.

    When Iran’s attempts at total transparency were completely rejected by E3 in 2005, nobody realized what they were playing with. That rejection, just like pouring cold water on the fatwa now, essentially behooves the scaremongers to believe their own what-ifs, leaving the field wide open for Iran to achieve much prized ambiguity.

    You can either look at each addition of centrifuges as a turn on the escalation cycle, defiance, if you will, or you can look at it as further re-enforcement of ‘ambiguity’. I.e. Iran’s capacities/capabilities are unknowable, and the west’s ‘surprised’ reaction to each incremental advance by Iran megaphones Iran is technically capable, and her capacities could be even more extensive than Olive Oil’s and David NotSoBright’s worst nightmares — no one will know until they’ll know.

    Not that I’m keeping score, but yet another inning goes to Iran.

    The situation has gone past the tipping point. That is why suddenly we see ‘diplomacy’ being advocated, and neocons being urged to put a sock in it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/02/opinion/another-try-at-nuclear-talks-with-iran.html?_r=0

  83. fy says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says:

    March 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

    General Soleimani knows better that anyone else living today that Iran, in spite of all the creativity shown during the war with Iraq, was defeated in that war.

    In War, there is no substitute for victory.

    In war, there are no ethical considerations; only victory.

    “Ethical considerations” in wars are sops for weak-minded people who do not understand the nature of war.

  84. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    You asked why I think the nuclear dispute with Iran cannot continue for years to come. As I have said before, if Iran stops stockpiling 20 U, the pressure on Obama will be lower.

    New York Times editorial March 2nd: Six powers “said Iran could continue to produce and keep a small amount of its most dangerous product – – uranium enriched to 20 percent . . . ”

    I think the true best interests of the US in Iran are in fact similar to Iran’s interests.

  85. James Canning says:

    fyi,

    Iran’s position is that the NPT should be strengthened, and Israel should be pressured to sign the treaty and get rid of its nukes. I think this is the position of a number of American officials, but they are reluctant to say it openly.

  86. James Canning says:

    Smith,

    The US is doing its best to keep track of Pakistan’s nukes. Pakistan’s foolish building of tactical nukes does make the situation more dangerous, and Iran beneifits from the US’s tracking of Pakistani nukes.

    Where do you get the idea the US would like those nukes to be in the hands of the Saudis, or in the hands of Sunni terrorists?

  87. James Canning says:

    R S Hack,

    If the Syrian insurgents are willing to negotiate a resolution of the unrest, with Bashar al-Assad’s government, this would be a good thing.

  88. Fiorangela says:

    Neo says: March 2, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Your response gave my comment more depth than it may have been entitled to — but much to think about.

    This statement of yours was particularly thoughtful, and important to keep in mind to keep the head from outgrowing the hat —

    “Many would excuse their own hidden agendas by considering themselves beyond good and evil or in service of some cosmic cause way above such ‘frivolities’.”

  89. fy says:

    James Canning says:

    March 2, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    United States has destroyed NPT; Iranians are using its corpse as a convenient political cover, that is all.

    UN, another remnant of the Peace of Yalta, is on its way to irrelevance.

    That US and Iran have certain common interests is not the issue; the issue is that Iran cannot “do business” with the current crop of US planners and leaders.

    For example, Mr. Bush declared enemies of Israel to be enemies of US; that position has not been revised under Mr. Obama.

    The wounding of Syria, in order to wound Iran, is another example of political madness by US leaders and planners.

  90. Karl.. says:

    The john kerry approved aid to syrian terrorists to wreck the iranian allied, is just another blunder by the US when it comes to Iran and show that US are not taking any steps at all to show they arent engaged in regime change in Iran nor does it show US want to build greater trust between US and Iran. These blunders just creates diplomacy more troublesome. Snakes.

  91. Pirouz says:

    So all the criticism of Going to Tehran I’ve seen so far I think I can safely characterize as being based on emotion.

    But just to demonstrate I’m not a blind cheerleader, I did find two very minor technical flaws in Going to Tehran. In the section dealing with the revolution there was an instance of a date being incorrect.

    And I thought the Leveretts overplayed Iranian attempts at building their own equivalent S-300 system. I think the Iranians are adept at improvising current stock, especially those defense systems purchased from the U.S. before the revolution and SSMs built using Scud technology. But replicating an S-300 is a tall order.

    But their empathetic approach in presenting Iran’s defense thinking was outstanding.

  92. humanist says:

    I visit antiwar.com nearly as often as browsing this site. About 20 minutes ago as I was in antiwar site I clicked on Gareth Porter name to find out if he has any new post that I have missed. I noticed his last article is the one which is duplicated in this threat.

    In the comment section I noticed a criticism Gareth as shown below:

    —-

    expatbama

    It’s a real shame that Gareth Porter — who is indeed a valuable investigative journalist — suspended those skills in favour of a paean to a book whose arguments are polemical and ill-supported.

    To give one notable example, Porter takes the 56 pages on 2009 election as “gospel” — instead of actually interrogating the results, he recycles the Leveretts’ weak claim that polls with suspect methodology, some conducted during a time of detentions and harassment of regime critics, can substitute for such an interrogation.

    And he repeats the Leveretts’ false assertion — based on the Guardian Council’s report trying to justify the election outcome, despite protest — that the Mousavi campaign did not produce any staff to challenge the outcome. They did, and some of those staff wound up in prison as a result. Some of them are still behind bars.

    This book is not “a new and rich source of analysis”, and it does no service to those who are trying both for a productive critique of US foreign policy and for a way forward for human rights as well as US-Iran relations.

    ——

    I replied to expatbama in this way:

    ====

    First attentively read the following 40 page investigative report on 2009 Iranian Presidential Election by Eric A Brill then evaluate whether that has changed your mind or not.

    Eric convincingly concludes “Not a single credible evidence of fraud was found in that election”.

    If you are open minded (as you pretend to be) then you will readily accept you were badly wrong, else you could be as self-righteous as the fascists or neocons.

    http://brill-law.com/iran-2009-election—100710.html

    I am an antiwar atheist who dislikes hypocritic theocracies, yet I deeply deplore what anti-Iran entities are doing just to start another genocidal war.

    This is not the time to criticize Iran’s wrongdoings. They pale towards invisibility when compared to astounding grand criminal acts of the warmongering neocons.

    ====

    Did I miss something more important?

  93. Castellio says:

    Humanist: I just regret you didn’t ask for the evidence of expatbama’s assertion that people did come forward and were incarcerated for it.

    The expatriate Iranian communities in Europe and North America are among the current regime’s fiercest enemies; the blame for the current state of affairs can’t be limited to the neocons. The expats make luke warm statements about not wanting the bombing of Iran and then red hot statements about the illegitimacy and depravity of the IRI government.

  94. BiBiJon says:

    humanist says:
    March 2, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    “expatbama” is the screen name for Scott Lucas.

    Another critique of anothe critic of Going to Tehran can be found here:

    http://www.iranaffairs.com/iran_affairs/2013/03/laura-secors-nonsense-review-of-the-leveretts-going-to-tehran-book.html

    I quote:

    It seems to me an interesting question of just how much proof is required in the discussion of international affairs to consider a point to have been established. The proponents of regime change and “Green Movements” in Iran have no problem making excess and unsourced claims about the popularity of their movement — providing NO objective evidence at all and relying entirely on emotional appeals and “blood shirt waving” (literally) — and yet they pooh pooh multiple, independent polls of Iranian public opinion conducted by reputable and experienced organizations and demand a degree of certainty about the evidence that is far far beyond what they’ve provided themselves or what is generally the standard in international affairs. We’re supposed to take it for granted that there was election fraud, with no evidence of any quality deemed necessary, but if anyone challenges that presumption, they have to meet a standard of evidence far beyond what is generally accepted in interntional debates, beyond even a scientific standard of proof.

    I don’t know much about the science of polling beyond my undergraduate statistics course, but I do know that while there are many reasons that a poll can be legitimately criticized, the fact that you simply don’t like the outcome is not one of these reasons. Polls in general amount to scientific evidence of a fact, which is a standard of proof far higher than what is even generally accepted in international affairs debates.

    In citing these polls, as the Leveretts or I do, we are not saying that they represent Iranian public opinion with absolute certainty, we only point out that the polls amount to very high quality and objective evidence of Iranian opinion. And this objective evidence says the people do generally support the regime. That by itself is more than enough to shift the burden of proof onto the Laura’s of the world, who are now obligated to counter that view with their own objective evidence, something which the proponents of the “stolen election” myth have thus far absolutely failed to do.

    So in short, are the polls perfect? No. Are they the best evidence we have? Yes. Have the critics of the polls provided any evidence of their own? No. (But don’t worry, I’m sure they’re cooking up a few polls of their own.)

    End quote
    ———

  95. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Syria crisis: European countries expected to start arming rebels
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/01/syria-crisis-european-countries-rebels

    This sounds about as I predicted – by summer, the EU (with Obama “leading from behind”, as usual) will be arming the Syrian insurgents. The chaos will increase, thus leading the US and NATO to a foreign military intervention sometime this year.

  96. Richard Steven Hack says:

    BiBiJon: ““expatbama” is the screen name for Scott Lucas.”

    Is that true? Didn’t know that.

  97. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Neo: “Problem with this position is that Israel would not survive a war with Iran.”

    Ridiculous. Israel will receive a few dozen or so missiles during any war with Iran – no possible way that will “destroy” Israel. The US will take out the rest or Iran will reserve them for attacking US assets in the region. The real problem for Israel during an Iran war is Hizballah’s arsenal – and that is an economic and political problem, not an existential one.

    If Israel had any inkling it might be “destroyed” by Iran, it would have nuked Iran by now and certainly will if any such threat emerges during a conflict.

    You people are just completely clueless about real relative military capabilities.

    “So, once again, what is the main driver that convinces you so much? Please explain.”

    I’ve repeated it here often enough. Your notion that “nations change” is sufficiently naive to be dismissed out of hand.

    Anyone who thinks Kerry and Hagel – both of whom have been hyped beyond their credentials – can or will change US foreign policy are simply drinking the Obama Kool-Aid, i.e. rendered mentally incompetent by cognitive dissonance.

  98. Richard Steven Hack says:

    fyi: “Japan is a marginal strategic threat to China. 1/3 of the Japanese population as well as almost all of her industrial base is within a 100-mile radius of the Yokohama Bay.”

    I would tend to agree overall. But Japan is a technological and economic powerhouse and as I said, IF GIVEN TIME could over-match China in terms of nuclear weapons. Of course, if a conflict arose in less time, China could destroy Japan with its nuclear arsenal.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, what matters in nuclear terms is whether a country has ENOUGH nukes to be a CREDIBLE threat to another country. China is a credible threat to the US despite being massively out-gunned by the US in nukes. They simply have enough nukes to threaten major destruction of US cities. That is how you get “deterrence.”

    Which is why Iran will never have “nuclear deterrence” because it will never have enough deliverable nukes to threaten the US – and not even Israel (before being attacked by Israel and the US.)

    But IF Japan made the decision to re-arm, and China did not destroy them first, Japan could build enough deliverable nukes to be a credible threat to China. That’s all I’m saying.

    It’s unlikely to ever happen because Japan remains under the US nuclear umbrella, so it’s mostly a moot point.

  99. Sineva says:

    Pirouz says:
    March 2, 2013 at 4:42 pm
    Theres quite a bit of evidence that iran has acquired some of the earlier model S300 the SA10,so its not like they`re starting from scratch and when it comes to reverse engineering the Iranians are some of the best in the business,in addition the dprk also paraded an S300 based system last year,the Venezuelans have purchased the S-300VM,so iran has potential sources for upgrading what it already has,and of course one wonders what iran would have received in return for letting the russians and chinese get a close look at the rq170.If theres one thing I`ve learnt its not to underestimate iran
    http://nukesofhazardblog.com/images/user/102/s300graph.jpg

  100. Liz says:

    Scott Lucas is obsessed with the Leveretts. He’s an online stalker.

    When you read his older material, you clearly see that Lucas wanted to be a hero like Gareth Porter and the Leveretts. However, due to his ignorance about Iran and Iranian politics he relied completely on the information provided to him by a couple of hotheaded greens after the 2009 presidential election and now he feels he can’t retreat, so instead he’s become a third rate Christopher Hitchens.

    I bet Lucas googles the Leveretts every few hours.

  101. Fiorangela says:

    Franklin Lamb reports from on-the-ground in Syria:

    http://mycatbirdseat.com/2013/03/franklin-lamb-the-oft-predicted-fickle-syrian-tipping-point-has-tipped/

    “History instructs us that as a result of American wars, from Vietnam to the Middle East — that it is the civilian population who will pay the price of the Obama administration’s just announced “humanitarian assistance” to selected groups in Syria. This history is well known here by Syrians who understand well the strange paradox of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement this week of Washington’s desire to speed up the political process aimed at ending the crisis in Syria by backing the armed Wahabist/ Salafist jihadi groups in the country.

    This week’s US and European decisions to back Syria’s rebels with direct aid will only lead to more bloodshed and encourage “terrorism” in the war-torn country, according to two Sheiks from Syria’s largest tribe who held court recently during tea in the lobby of the Dama Rose Hotel here.”

    Lamb assesses that support for Assad is gaining strength, the people are exhausted but want to work out Syria’s governance by themselves; they are convinced that the “civil war” was fomented by foreigners. Lamb says that Syrians he spoke with prefer that Assad govern for a few years until Syria is stabilized.

    Lamb’s report includes a photo of a protester at John Kerry appearance, hoisting a placard that says:

    “U$A, EU, Italy, Qatar, Saoud, Turkey Support Terrorists”

  102. BiBiJon says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:
    March 2, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Ya, same guy. and rachel maddow gave his eu site a shout out the other night.

    http://armscontrollaw.com/2013/02/15/going-to-tehran-why-the-united-states-must-come-to-terms-with-the-islamic-republic-of-iran/comment-page-1/#comment-2806

  103. Bussed-in Basiji says:

    fyi,
    “In war, there are no ethical considerations; only victory.”

    “Victory” itself is an ethical consideration. Sorry if I’m getting too “bookish” for a strong-willed warrior such as you.

    Please tell us about “the nature of war” from your first-hand experience during the war sending books to TU (instead of defending your country). Please please tell us.

    No need to rehash all the reasons we have discussed why Iran won the war and Iraq lost.

  104. Breaking News says:

    @All

    http://www.presstv.com/detail/2013/03/03/291675/iran-sanctions-to-ease-from-today-salehi/

    “”With the measures adopted by the [Iranian] diplomatic apparatus, from today we will witness the gradual removal of the sanctions.”

    Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has announced that the US-engineered sanctions against the Islamic Republic will be gradually removed from today, March 3. “”

    The USD has dropped around 10 % in 3 hours against the IRR

    http://www.sarrafisamen.com

  105. Karl.. says:

    Liz,

    Scott Lucas seems obsessed with Leveretts indeed, he even felt the urge to smear them and their book at Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A61OWERRE9GT9/ref=cm_cr_pr_pdp

    Obviously hes jealous he cannot put out such a great book.

  106. fy says:

    Richard Steven Hack says:

    March 2, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    US is not a strategic threat to Iran; and after the collapse of USSR neither is Russia. Likewise for China.

    In 1998, after the nuclear tests of India and Pakistan, the strategic situation around Iran changed; at that time she should have left NPT.

    Remaining in NPT was a very big mistake for Iran, likewise helping the destruction of the late Dr. Najib’s government in Afghanistan.

    I see the finger of the Hidden Imam in protecting Iran in spite of errors of judgment demonstrated by her leaders.

  107. fy says:

    Fiorangela says:

    March 2, 2013 at 11:54 pm

    The Senate of the United States attempted to define terrorism and then to codify it in the law during 1980s (I do not recall exact date).

    Every single time US Government lawyers came back and stated that US would be in violation of such a law.

    The states that you have mentioned, indeed Axis Powers, are all state-sponsors of terrorism – no doubt.

  108. fy says:

    Bussed-in Basiji says:

    March 3, 2013 at 3:31 am

    The most useful thing to a human being, is another human being.

    The nature of war is this: human beings are fed into a furnace and out comes (human) smoke.

    The best thing you can do is to be strong enough so that others will not attack you out of fear, or, alternatively, if attacked you can destroy the enemy quickly. That is why not all of expenditures of the United States on armaments is foolish – those armaments protect her against other states.

    There is only a single ethical consideration in war (after it has started) – its quick end.

    That is the reason that the continuation of the war in Afghanistan by Mr. Obama, for domestic political reasons, is an un-ethical act.

    That is why the feeding of the war in Syria by Axis Powers, delaying the failure of their own hopeless strategy is also unethical (not to mention the issues of just war etc.)

    Asserting that Iraq was defeated in Iran-Iraq War will not make it so; the war aims of Iran were not realized – that meant defeat.

    Iraq was defeated by the United States and her allies.

    And it was Providence that caused the United States to destroy Iraq; God turned their tricks against them.

    In regards to Iran, had she been equipped with nuclear weapons before 1979, those killed in that war would have been alive today.

    And if I belonged to the martyrs families, that is what I would have wished; fewer martyrs, more living people.

  109. Joanna says:

    Theres quite a bit of evidence that iran has acquired some of the earlier model S300 the SA10

    There is not “quite a bit of evidence” that Iran acquired the S300-PT. There is a 2010 Fars news report that alleged Belarus had sold Iran two (outdated) systems. Fars — which is close to the IRGC — is hardly a credible news source and frequently publishes exaggerated or false reports as part of its propaganda efforts. Any sale by Minsk of the systems would violate international arms regulations. There have been NO other reports in Iran to say that the sale happened.

  110. James Canning says:

    fy,

    You appear to be arguing that Khamenei’s denunciations of nuclear weapons on religious grounds, are unsound.

  111. James Canning says:

    fy,

    You fail to assign any blame to Khomeini for the Iran-Iraq war. Do you think his actions should not have been regarded as likely to produce severe adverse consequences for Iran?

  112. James Canning says:

    fy,

    You argue that if the Shah had built nukes, Iraq would not have attacked. But are you not overlooking the possibility the US would have intervened in an effort to prevent Khomeini from taking control of the country? Probably more than a possiblility.

  113. fy says:

    James Canning says:

    March 3, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    No.

    The fact remains that the only 3 mechanized armored divisions of the Iranian Army at the time of the Shah, were under-staffed in 1978. Iranians were not prepared to fight a major war with Iraq even at that time.

    Iraq, like the Mamlukes in Egypt, was a state without a country. It went to war against Iran since that was Raison d’Etre of that militarized state; as it did later against Kuwait.

    If any blame is to be assigned to the late Mr. Khomeini, it will have to have been in not reigning in the extreme utopianism of his own followers.

    Very many mullahs as well as large sectors of the Iranian society believed, in 1979, that when Islamic Revolution is triumphant the Millennium would have arrived. That prisons, tanks, armies, etc. will be un-needed since the new Islamic Iran were to recapitulate the ethos and practices of the nascent Muslim community in Medina before the death of the Prophet of Islam.

    [Men, such as myself, who had grasped the brutal lessons of history – were an insignificant minority then although no so much so any longer.]

    The Supreme Jurisprudent of Iran [le Grand Sophie] has made a determination based on his understanding of Islamic Law. I am stating on my opinion based on military logic.

    If P5+1 cared one whit about non-proliferation, they would have flown to Tehran and kissed the hands of Mr. Khamenei and thanked him for his steadfast support of non-proliferation regime at the level of idea. They would have further aided him and Iran by supporting his legal position – fatwa – as a precursor for its adoption by all Muslim states in support of the Universal Nuclear Disarmament.

    But that was not the case; P5+1 wanted to beat Iran down, leaving her exposed to existential threats.

    Axis Powers (P3+1) wanted to effect regime change in Iran; having concluded that they are immune to strategic danger based on their own nuclear weapons.

    Sic Tranist Gloria Mundi.

    As for your last question; I cannot answer it.

    But let me pose the following question to you: “In case of government overthrow in Pakistan and collapse of state authority, is there anything US can do in regards to Pakistan’s 60 to 90 nuclear weapons?”

    [I think not.]

    I am sorry that Iran did not have nuclear weapons in 1980, obviating the need for all those fine young men to walk over mine fields.

    Nor Iran would be in her current predicament of being threatened with death and destruction.

  114. Sineva says:

    Joanna says:
    March 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm
    I did not say where iran had acquired them from,simply that they had them and thus they were not starting from scratch when developing their own version,I also wouldn`t call them outdated by any means,also being defensive systems the sale of them would not violate sanctions.I suppose you think the systems being paraded in iran were just “oil drums” stuck together?